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Lost & Found Series Part 1: How can you find what you want in the midst of being lost?

· Career
Every time I meet a friend, I am always excited to meet him or her. I always wanted to know the story of his or her life. Every story is unique.

Some describe their stories as part of a life cycle documentary. Jen graduated and urgently seeking to find her first job. Thereafter, she got the job and seeking to find ways to go up the corporate ladder. Overtime, she realize that her social life is being compromised so she started seeking to enhance her social life by catching up with her friends and to take some social activities to build new ones. Later on her peers are getting married and she started seeking to find dates. Eventually she seeks to get married and have kids. Finally she seeks to explore different streams of income so as to have a comfortable retirement.

Others describe their stories as part of a report card. Steve is currently seeking to graduate quickly so he is taking many subjects this academic year. Thereafter, he is going to work X number of hours so as to save up X dollars to get that house. Steven is constantly evaluating his options to achieve the best possible economic gains.

Who has the authority to determine which narrative story is correct? No one. Human beings are constantly seeking to improve themselves so they strive to do better. Without that, there would not be prosperity and positive change to this world. Most of them will describe their stories in a positive light to either reflect some optimism or to illuminate their pride. Some will describe their stories in a negative light to either seek empathy or to beg for some actions to advance their agendas. Few would have the courage to describe the stories of what the truth is. I am always constantly thinking about how I describe my life story. I love to learn from the past, cherish the present and seek to progress into the future. Yet, the interesting part of narrating a story is to tell the past, to state the present and to paint the future.

If you are seeking to build a narrative story of your life as a purposeful and meaningful one, then I hope that this article will help you to do that in some way or another.

As the title depicts, how can you discover your passion in the midst of being lost? I have 4 simple steps to follow:

1. Getting something to do.

Everyone needs focus at times. By getting something to do, you are pre-occupied. Yet the paradox is not getting too pre-occupied if it is not something you really want. The next interesting question is whether are you making deliberate effort to move closer to what you really want to do.

2. Advance your discovery process

Where to start figuring out what to do? There are typically 2 ways for beginning this discovery process. You can do it full time or do it part time. [See the article about the trade off between taking a full time job on a discovery process and taking a part time job on a discovery process]

2.1: Create a discovery list and follow it.

One way is to try to make a list of things that you have not tried. It’s akin to the movie The Bucket List starred by Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson.

The difference between The Bucket List and This Discovery List is that you are not dying but you are making a list of things to do so as to live longer. By living longer, I am mean you learn to live a life of what you want. Here I am assuming that you subscribe to the philosophy that you follow your passion to add value to the society and the market will reward you for your contribution.

By having a list, you create focus in evaluating what you like and what you dislike about the job. Then you rate your overall experience about that job.

There will be some jobs that have certain requirements. One requires time, energy and resources to obtain those requirements in order to try those jobs. [ See the article titled being entrepreneurial about getting those jobs on the discovery list. ]

2.2 Sub divide that list into parallel choices and inter connected choices

Parallel choices are jobs that are totally not related to each other. These jobs or things to do serve to open your horizon about yourself in terms of personality, abilities and passion. For instance, the job of an operation manager for a fast food franchise is totally different to that of a sales manager for a technology company.

Interconnected choices are jobs that are related to each other along a common dimension. That dimension can be industry, function, or reporting stakeholders. These jobs serve to evaluate the skill transferable abilities.

There are some jobs that you can try on a casual or part time basis. For example, if you want to know whether you love technology related jobs, you can try applying on www.elance.comor . If you want to know whether you love to take driving as a career, you can try applying on or . If you want to evaluate whether you love to cook or start a food business, then is the place to try.

3. Evaluate to quit or to continue

Once you take on a job on your discovery list, you can set a timeframe and a metric that you can evaluate your passion.

For example, you might want to be a banker because you like to solve monetary problems for people and derive satisfaction out of that. You can pick a health metric say the number of days that you feel stressed about. For instance, when you are working very happily, the number of days that you feel stressed about should be close to zero. If you are getting promotion and are not very happy due to the rigorous demand of the job, then that metric should be increasing at an alarmingly rate.

Always be careful about the metric you pick to measure your life. [ See the article about selecting the right metrics for what you want to do. Alternative great resource is a book on how willl you measure your life by Professor Clayton Christensen]

If the metric you have chosen is growing with other positive signs of the job, then you should continue. This means you should keep persisting despite the obstacles. Likewise, if the metric is not growing as you have expected, then you need to take a step back and re-evaluate your existing options. Quitting is also a sign of learning to begin something new. [ A great resource: The Dip: When to Quit and When to Stick by Seth Godin]

4. Keep iterating till it clicks

If you like this job, then you can write a more specific discovery list along the trajectory path of this job. You can keep repeating the steps of doing something more specific, pick a metric to evaluate your progress against that metric and evaluate on the go to decide whether you should continue or to quit.

If you dislike this job, then you can eliminate that option and move onto the other job options that you have previously written in your discovery list. The iteration process is similar to the previous situation if you like the job.

Although this is a series of 4 steps process, this process comes with ever changing emotions that can hinder your discovery process. As such , I strongly recommend that you have a supportive network. That supportive network can be your family, your friends or your affiliates.

A journey of a 1,000 miles begin with a single step. It’s ok to feel anxious, feel scared, feel paranoid of the unknown but you need to keep going with every single step towards discovering what you really want and who you really are.

Keep going!